Oscar-winning design goes under hammer

AN OSCAR-winning costume design for an outfit worn by Audrey Hepburn in her iconic role as Eliza Doolittle was snapped up for a bargain price at a Suffolk auction house yesterday.

James Mortlock

AN OSCAR-winning costume design for an outfit worn by Audrey Hepburn in her iconic role as Eliza Doolittle was snapped up for a bargain price at a Suffolk auction house yesterday.

The drawing - one of a collection built up by an enthusiast from the county of original works by legendary theatre designer and photographer Cecil Beaton - made £1,400 at the Bury St Edmunds sale, at the lower end of the £1,000 to £2,500 estimate auctioneers Bonhams had placed on the sketch.

The simple work was the inspiration for one of the sumptuous gowns which helped make the film My Fair Lady so successful.


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It was among a group of 12 sketches on sale yesterday and although the drawing for the 1964 film attracted considerable interest over the phone, Bonhams staff said there were fewer people than expected in the Athenaeum for the auction.

Chantal Haddon, press officer, said: “The £1,400 hammer price - it made £1,680 including the auctioneers' premium - was at the lower end of the estimate.

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“It was a little bit disappointing. We had some phone bidders but there weren't as many people as we would have expected in the hall itself so the sale was a little mixed.”

She said the whole collection, split among various buyers, made a total of £4,000 - £3,000 below the estimated £7,000 value.

Mrs Haddon said another highlight of the sale was a design of Beaton's for the Broadway production of the Chalk Garden. The set design fetched £576.

Sir Cecil Beaton won and Academy award for his costume design for My Fair Lady, which brought together Hepburn and Rex Harrison in one of the 20th Century's most memorable screen musicals.

Daniel Wright, Bonhams' East Anglian picture specialist, said: “These wonderful sketches by Cecil Beaton were brought into our office in Bury by a local collector from Lavenham, who acquired them in the 1990s and some of the pictures were shown in 1988 as part of an exhibition celebrating Beaton's work.”

He said the sale was a rare opportunity for film and stage fans to buy original work by Beaton.

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